Selle San Marco Concor Light Team
There's a 1970s-type charm to the Selle San Marco Concor Light. Part of us thinks it's because the seat has a wave like a banana seat, but more likely it's because it reminds us of the spoiler on a mid-70s Firebird Trans-Am. Fast, easy to peel out with - a comfy bucket seat. A retro style (can we get some criterium-bend handlebars and a candy-apple red frame to complete the look?), dating to the 1970s for the original Concor and 1989 for the Concor Light, but one that has a long-lived, loyal following.
Selle San Marco retired this saddle style a number of years back, but still supplied them to their sponsored riders, and some famous non-sponsored riders as well. They realized that if their most visible spokespeople are still requesting the Concor Light, maybe they should try offering it to the public as well. Last year, the saddle finally returned to the Selle San Marco lineup. We hope the people at Selle Italia are taking note; they should bring back the original Flite design.
From what we can tell, it's been a successful return. The saddles are very popular at the pro level and we see them underneath local riders, too. We also get a kick out of how Trek made a big deal about their number one athlete choosing a Trek-owned, Bontrager-labeled saddle for his return to competition . But the Concor Light had returned to his bikes by the start of the Giro d'Italia .
The Concor Light is what the people at the importer refer to as a "hammock" or "sweet spot" saddle. That is as opposed to a "bench" saddle. Hammocks are curved and most riders find a sweet spot in the hammock where they always ride. Bench saddles are flat and riders move fore and aft on the saddle as they ride.
We came across a tidbit from Fizik on what kind of rider will find which saddle comfortable. In a Velo News tech piece, the people at Fizik indicated that their flat Arione is good for people with great flexibility, their curved Aliante is for people with poor flexibility, and their Antares is for people in between. We have doubts about this contention, as the Aliante is very popular with ProTour riders, and many, like George Hincapie, are able to ride with their bars long and low.
While we've tested a number of bench-style saddles this year, we still find our hammocky Flite to be the most comfortable. Looking at the dramatic curves of the Concor Light, we figured this could be a saddle for us. The big differences seemed to be that the Concor Light appears much narrower and shorter than the Flite. According to the Selle San Marco lit, this titanium-railed saddle is 260mm long and 128mm wide. For that matter, the claimed weight is 208g, while our saddle weighed in at 203g on our scale and 204g in the shop. We consider that relatively light, especially for a 20 year-old design.
One of the difficulties of a hammock-style seat is how to determine the pitch of the saddle. We use a four-foot level (it's the only level we own that is longer than our saddles) to determine the saddle's pitch. With our Flite and most of the saddles we've tested, we've set the pitch at just below level, or ever-so-slightly nose down/tail up.
When we replicated this pitch with the Concor Light, our sit area was not happy. We had the saddle at the same height as our old saddle and the same setback. While we could produce good power and ride hard, it felt like we were sitting on the narrow orientation of a two-by-four. A padded two-by-four.
After a few rides, a few rides of definitely not getting used to the pitch, we tilted the saddle so the nose was not-so-subtly pointing down. We adjusted seatpost up a bit so the overall height of the saddle remained the same, and setback about 1mm shorter. The interesting visual result of doing this is that the saddle appears to be less curved. The saddle looks flatter, but with a spoiler sticking up in back.
This position was much more comfortable. We felt like we were able to find our sweet spot between the flip tail and the nose. We didn't feel like we were sitting on a two-by-four anymore.
We can't say we felt the padding of the saddle in any position. This isn't to write that the saddle isn't padded. When we push a finger into the saddle, we can see the leather give. It actually feels almost generously padded for a racing saddle. But when we found ourselves riding on the nose, and then between the nose and tail, we didn't feel the foam compressing at all. Whether or not we noticed the padding, the saddle was rather comfortable in the new position. We climbed and time trialed on it and we felt powerful doing both. Our power meter confirmed the observation.
The one thing we can't comment on is whether or not this saddle will break in. Folks at the importer tell us that the Selle San Marco classic saddles break in over time. They think the Concor Light could take a solid month of riding before it breaks in. They told us this about the Regal Ti we tested last year. While that saddle did get more comfy over time, we're still a bit skeptical. Is it because the padding breaks down or the shell starts to sag? Can the shell get "molded" to your undercarriage? If these things happen, won't they continue to happen the more you ride and eventually break?
To Selle San Marco's defense, they do have "biofoam" as the padding. It's supposed to follow your body's movements. Whatever that means. In fairness, it does seem like our Flites start flatter and gain a certain amount of sag after quite a bit of riding, and that sag seems to stay. Maybe an engineer can explain why.
Charm can be requited. For our undercarriage, this saddle rides like it looks. It's good and fast. And standing still, it has the appeal of a tweaked-out custom ride.